How and why I stopped being a “King James Onlyist,” part 1

For the past few years in my walk with God, he has given me a strong desire to learn the truth in all areas of doctrine. I wanted the truth, and I still do even now, but in my zeal for truth I failed to realise that not every source of knowledge which I was exposed to was free of bias and hidden agendas. Not everything that someone who claims to be a “lover of truth” says or writes is true; every single person has a natural bias which they are blind to. This bias comes from many different outside sources, creating a presuppositional framework of belief. Many of these beliefs are simply taught to us when we grow up and we never see any reason to question them.

The presupposition which I accepted because of my evangelical/fundamentalist upbringing was this: that the Bible is the perfect, inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Now, this might shock you if you’ve never thought deeply about the doctrine of Biblical inerancy (if you’re a fundamentalist or an evangelical Christian). Because the doctrine of inerrancy is equated with faith in God himself; “if you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then you don’t really believe in the God of the Bible.” This made up quote could very well have been uttered by some Christian, somewhere, sometime… (And if you’re thinking right now in your mind “this guy’s a heretic!” then please, don’t stop reading yet. Maybe I’m not really a heretic?)

But what happens when you truly embrace this doctrinal presupposition? That the Bible is 100% free of any mistakes? And that it is the very Word of God, like God himself wrote every single word contained within its sixty-six books?

If you’re logically consistent, then the first thing you will do is throw out all Bible translations which are anything less than a word-for-word translation. You would switch to only using a translation which is the most faithful rendering of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

This is what I did: I searched via the internet to find which Bible translation is the most accurate. And due to what I read, I then started believing that the NASB is the closest and most accurate translation of the Word of God. I stopped reading the NIV which I grew up with and switched over to the NASB. The NASB was my faithful companion for the next two years.

But then something happened: I somehow got exposed to the teachings of King James Onlyism.

They claimed that the King James Bible is the perfect, inspired, inerrant Word of God in the English language. And so I read… and read, and read, and continued to read more and more articles “proving” how the King James is perfect and how every other translation after 1611 is a Jesuit conspiracy against the Christian church. I was mostly convinced. I refused to listen to anyone who disproved this notion, suspecting that they were secretly a Jesuit shill hellbent on deceiving me away from God’s Word.

About this time right before I finally switched over to King James Onlyism I started watching on youtube, sermons by a Baptist pastor named Steven Anderson. I was shocked at first – this guy would yell at the top of his lungs, bash the pulpit, and unashamedly oppose the decline of western society. Here is someone who seemed to take the Bible seriously. Listening to Anderson is what finally convinced me of the conspiracy against the church.

I began to purchase King James Bibles, fearing that the New World Order was going to force them out of print to deprive us of God’s word. I started giving them away to friends and relatives in hopes that their eyes would also be opened to the truth. The few people that I brought the topic up with seemed to think of me as crazy. I started to believe that almost everybody I know who claims to be a Christian is actually deceived and not really saved, all because they clung to their NIV’s, their NKJV’s, their ESV’s and their Amplified’s. My soul began to despair at the thought that I’m the only Christian in my circle of relations who is saved.

The feelings of loneliness which were brought on made me take a break from listening to Steven Anderson. So I continued to study theology – ignoring the advice of the most vocal King James proselytizers. (They actively tell their congregations not to even bother looking at the original languages – and to even “throw your Strong’s Concordance in the trash!” They seem to have a strongly anti-intellectual disposition).

Then I had this thought: “what happens when we die?” And at this point I became aware of a doctrinal presupposition which I was currently believing, that once we die, we go straight to either Heaven or hell. But it was true, wasn’t it? The King James would seem to indicate so, with the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16. With a commitment to take everything written as being literal over allegorical this created a theological contradiction. I had been studying the Gospel of John, and Jesus made it clear that there would be a resurrection at the end of the world. So maybe this story of the rich man and Lazarus was simply a parable?

Then controversy broke out: on youtube, Steven Anderson was making it seem like there had been a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an undercover deceiver running about – a coup in the making to split his church and topple his pastoral authority. This controversy was over the exact definitions of the Trinity, with some of the members claiming that Jesus is the Father.

Anderson gave the impression that they are all unsaved reprobates and heretics, and so he had kicked them out of his church. He then proceeded to deliver multiple sermons on the Trinity. But this was then challenged by counter videos by the so-called-wolves who showed that they only believed the same definitions of the Trinity that Anderson himself used to believe.

Hypocrisy. And Steven Anderson refused to admit any wrongdoing on his part.

This lead me to watch some videos exposing Anderson as being the actual wolf. One of these videos also showed some examples of how King James Onlyism is false. Since then, I have stopped listening to Anderson completely, and believe him to be a raving lunatic.

Though this is where I came full circle. One video in particular showed how some of the readings in the Tyndale Bible are more faithful than those of the King James:

Colossians 3:12, Tyndale New Testament

Now therfore as electe of god holy and beloved put on tender mercie kyndnes humblenes of myndes meknes longe sufferynge

Colossians 3:12, King James Version

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

The wording of note is the King James use of the word “bowels.” While it is actually a literal rendering of the Greek, the meaning is completely lost on us. The bowels (the intestines) were regarded in Hebrew times as being the seat of emotions, similar to how we in modern times use the heart as being the centre of our deepest feelings.

Now this did not immediately make me abandon the King James, but caused me to start questioning again the Greek words behind the English text. As I wrote above that I had been studying what occurs right after death, this renewed interest in the Greek led to my discovery that the word which the King James translates as “hell” is actually three different words: gehenna, hades, and tartarus. And for the Old Testament the Hebrew word is sheol.

Now, why would the King James translators do this? According to the King James fanatic, there is nothing wrong with these translations – in fact, they will claim that to replace those words with transliterations like most modern versions do is a sinister plot to wipe out the traditional doctrine of hell from our Bibles. But this claim is patently false when examined more closely.

In the Old Testament, the King James uses the word “hell” to describe the fate of the lost, but whenever the same Hebrew word sheol is used in relation to the righteous, the King James instead calls it “the grave.” This is a translation bias due to the doctrine of hell which most of the Church during the Reformation held to (the doctrine that states that immediately after death, a sinner goes straight to hell, rather than a waiting period likened to sleep, until the resurrection and last judgement). Now I simply believe that after death, everybody is immediately resurrected into the future to stand before God, and to then be cast into the lake of fire, or to enter into eternal life. Two thousand years of earthly time could feel like a second. (I will discuss this in more detail in a future post).

So what did this theological shift cause for my King James Onlyism? I finally decided to search up for “errors in the King James.” And found a list of items which the author claims are proven mistakes.

As usual, there are a few KJ devotees in the comments section who “debunk” the claim that these are genuine contradictions. But one of those items on the list cannot be debunked in some creative fashion. It is a genuine error in the King James. (Though it is not an error of translation, it is an actual error in the underlying Hebrew text).

2 Chronicles 36:9 KJV

Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign…

2 Kings 24:8 KJV

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign…

 

The Old Testament contains many parallel passages of scripture, much like the New Testament contains four different gospel accounts. But in this parallel account of one of the kings of Judah, one passage says he was eight years old, the other says he was eighteen years old. There is no denying that this is an error. Yet KJV fanatics will either deflect and ignore this error or try and create some method to explain it away. THIS IS HUMAN BIAS. Please, if you’re reading this and you’re a King James Onlyist, open your eyes and just accept the truth: the KJV is not inerrant.

How did this honestly make me feel when I accepted the fact of the matter? I felt afraid. I felt like I had lost some sense of certainty in life. There is a certain level of dependency that King James onlyism creates for the literal printed words of the Bible rather than a childlike faith in God himself; faith in the English words rather than faith in the Eternal Word who is Jesus Christ. The feeling of fear only lasted a short while – and it’s good that my time as a KJ Onlyist lasted only five months.

After coming to grips with the truth, I simply delved deeper into studying theology – my faith in God is still as strong as ever. According to the author of PostBarthian, the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy (as the church teaches it in modern times) is actually not how the church has historically viewed the scriptures, and that Martin Luther did not blindly accept the sixty-six books of the Bible as being the inerrant word of God, but used a Christ centred hermeneutic, embracing every scripture which preached Christ – and rejecting every scripture which did not preach Christ. Luther placed the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, into a separate section of his German translation of the Bible.

You might be thinking that I’ve simply stopped believing in the Bible and become a liberal. I have not become a liberal. My faith is in God. I guess my exact position regarding the scriptures is currently in limbo. The question you might want to ask is this: “what Bible did Abraham have?” The answer is none. Abraham simply had faith in God.

If the thought of the Bible containing mistakes makes you question your faith, please don’t. The goal of this post is not to make anyone lose faith. But what are you placing your faith in? Have you come to know God in a personal way, or do you simply believe he exists because that’s what people have conditioned you into believing? Our God is a self-revealing God. If he has revealed his existence to you, then even if you did not have a perfect Bible, you will never lose faith. God is our provider and sustenance.

Christians are called to walk by faith.

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6 thoughts on “How and why I stopped being a “King James Onlyist,” part 1”

  1. As a Catholic, I try to suppress the urge to tell to our Evangelical brethren: “We told you so”. This is not a Christ-like attitude like but it’s the truth. A brief short with my broken English:

    Luther tried to establish his authority over the Pope’s. How could he do that? He was only a monk and the Pope was (theoretically) the successor of Peter. He found a way: the Bible is the highest authority and I (Luther) am right because I am more faithful to the Bible than the Pope. He opened a can of worms. Because his reasoning could be replicated ad infinitum. Suddenly, everybody thought he was more faithful to the Bible than the neighbor.

    This is why there is only one Catholic church, 8 Eastern churches, 12 Orthodox churches and 30 thousand Protestant churches. 30 thousand! I kid you not. Luther said that everybody could interpret the Bible, helped by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must have 30 thousand different personalities (a case of extreme multiple personality disorder, no doubt about it)

    Unlike the Qur’an, which is the Word of God and hence perfect, the Bible is the word of writers inspired by God (for example, the books of Isaiah and Baruch are written by Baruch, the scribe). As humans, the writers introduced mistakes and biases, but the original message (the inspiration coming from God) was right. I see like a perfect sign telling “Smoking is not allowed” that you see through an imperfect glass. Maybe the shape of the letters is not perfect when you see them through an imperfect glass, but the message can be read. Maybe the cosmology of the Bible reflects the ignorance of his writers, but the salvation message can be read.

    The important thing of Christianity is not the Bible (we are not Muslim), it is the message of salvation brought by Jesus, which includes the fact that Jesus is our Savior. The message was delivered to the apostles and the Church in an oral way (Jesus wrote nothing). The biblical books were not written until 90 AD and, even then, there were isolated books in the middle of other religious literature. The Bible as we know it was fixed by the Catholic Church at the councils of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397, 419). They decided which books were included in the Bible and which books were excluded in the Bible.

    So for 400 years, Christian people had no Bible. Weren’t they Christians? Wasn’t the apostle Paul Christian because he had no Bible? No, because the important thing is not the text of the Bible but the message of salvation written in it, and this message was delivered in other ways (in oral way, for example) through the Church. Jesus founded a Church, He did not found a Bible. He said the message to his disciples in an oral way. He did not wrote a letter. The Bible is only the best way to have these message that has been delivered by other channels (the tradition of the Church). For example, the story of Lucifer as a fallen angel is not in the Bible. It is really sad to see our Evangelical brethren commit the mistake of Bibliolatry, which goes against history and common sense. First, it was the Church and the Church begat the Bible and not the other way around.

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    1. Though I’m not a Catholic, so I don’t agree with the Catholic church on many of its doctrines and practices, it is a shame that there are so many protestant/evangelical/fundamentalist denominations. Something which I’ve noticed with many Christians is that they never study or read any of the writings of the early church (other than Augustine). So many seem to unquestionably rely upon Calvin (if they’re Calvinist) or Luther (if they’re Lutheran) and never go back further in time to study historical theology. There are many doctrines which Luther and Calvin believed in which differ from the early church (pre-Augustine), and which those who follow Luther and Calvin adamantly hold to. (For example: Trying to convince a Calvinist that Calvin was wrong on a particular doctrine is next to impossible, in my experience).

      The Bible’s purpose is to point us to Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation. It is a book of faith, not a book of science. Yet some fundamentalists do indeed treat the Bible it like it is Jesus Christ himself in the form of an earthly book.

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    2. The KJV contains the fall of lucifer, though almost every other version removes his name from this passage.
      Isaiah 14:12-15
      12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

      13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

      14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

      15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

      “The biblical books were not written until 90 AD”

      What sources do you have for this claim? (I assume you mean the NT books).

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  2. Well, I don’t know why you deleted my message. It was respectful and kind. If I was wrong, I would have been happy to show me why. You seem a true seeker of the truth and the truth is found confronting the opinions of other people, not silencing them.

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    1. Sorry, but I didn’t delete your previous comment, just didn’t log on until now to approve it. I mostly agree with what you wrote.
      There were quite a few other books which did not get canonized, such as the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas, and Clement’s letters (just recalling these off the top of my head, so don’t quote me on that). So I guess the church simply canonized the writings which were most accepted by the early church, and left the rest as secondary in authority.

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